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Dutch court hands Amanda Todd's cyberbully maximum sentence

Carol Todd holds a photo of her daughter Amanda.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Justice officials in British Columbia have vowed to continue their pursuit of the man accused of cyberbullying and blackmailing Port Coquitlam teenager Amanda Todd after a Dutch court on Thursday sentenced him to almost 11 years in prison for separate but nearly identical crimes against dozens of people.

The 10-year, eight-month sentence handed down to Aydin Coban in the Netherlands is the maximum possible punishment under Dutch law. Mr. Coban, 38, was convicted of fraud and blackmail via the Internet relating to the online harassment of 34 girls and five men.

In B.C., Mr. Coban faces charges including extortion, possession of child pornography and attempting to lure a child online related to the case of Amanda, who died by suicide in October, 2012.

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One month earlier, Amanda had posted online a video detailing years of harassment. Part of the video told of a moment of indiscretion – flashing her breasts on a webcam in Grade 7 – and the resulting extortion by an unknown male who sent images to her friends, family and classmates after she refused to "put on a show" for him.

Her death, at age 15, triggered an international discussion on cyberbullying and criminal harassment. Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for B.C.'s Ministry of Justice, said in an e-mail Thursday that the 2014 charges "are outstanding in B.C. and the Criminal Justice Branch is continuing to pursue the extradition of Mr. Coban to face these charges.

"The extradition process is currently ongoing and the branch is monitoring the developments closely," he wrote.

A Dutch court had approved the extradition, but Mr. Coban is appealing; a decision on that is expected April 4. If the appeal is denied, the matter will go before Dutch authorities for ministerial approval.

However, Mr. Coban is expected to also appeal his recent conviction, which would further delay the extradition. The Dutch court heard that Mr. Coban pretended to be a boy or girl and persuaded his victims to perform sexual acts for him via webcam. He then posted the images online or blackmailed his victims by threatening to do so. In some cases, the abuse lasted years.

The court's decision noted the "devastating effect" that Mr. Coban's harassment had on his victims. They felt deep feelings of shame, humiliation and guilt, and felt as if they were being held hostage, the court heard.

"I can totally annihilate ur life," he wrote to one girl. "I will drive you to kill urself bitch. I Go That Far."

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The court decision called his actions "shocking."

"The statements of the girls shows how scared they were and sometimes still are," the decision read. "It has also become clear how far-reaching the consequences of the actions of the accused have been and still are the victims, but also for their families."

Amanda's mother, Carol Todd, said she was pleased that Mr. Coban received the maximum sentence in the Dutch proceedings.

"I am grateful to the judges that they looked over all evidence and the testimony and realized that this person was guilty," she said in an interview from Winnipeg. "I am saddened that someone has to go through those behaviours in order to bring joy to himself."

Christian van Dijk, Mr. Coban's former lawyer, viewed the punishment as too steep.

"Crimes like this are never good, of course, but a murderer can get a lower sentence in Holland," he wrote in an e-mail.

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Mr. van Dijk also maintains that the use of a keystroke logger by Dutch police during the course of their investigation was unlawful.

With a report from The Associated Press

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